Home at Last

Back home at last, at least until Thursday when I’m off to Los Angeles for the BEA convention.

On the way home I got a chance to finish Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus. It says something about the craziness of this tour that I’ve only had time to finish one book the entire month. I enjoyed Gods of Manhattan a lot. Topher at BookPeople recommended it highly, and I can see why. The premise is great: Historical figures from New York City become spirits, and sometimes even gods, after they die. Rory and Bridget are great main characters. Their relationship reminds me somewhat of Gregor and Boots in the Suzanne Collins books. The Rattle Watch and Fritz the roach are a well-imagined supporting cast. The story: someone has forged a knife that can kill gods, and Rory (the last “Light” of New York), must find the assassin. There’s a lot more to it, of course, but take a look. It’s a fast exciting read.

I also found time to do a guest blog for Puffin Books about my UK travels. You can read it here. While you’re at it, check out the redesigned British Percy Jackson site, with a contest to win a trip to Camp Half-Blood. (That’s right: there will be one British winner and one American winner attending the same session!) The new video clip is very cool.

I came home to find a finished copy of The Maze of Bones, the first 39 Clues book, waiting in the mail. It looks great! My attention has been focused mostly on Percy Jackson, of course, and will continue to be as I wrap up book five this summer, but I’m very excited about Maze of Bones coming out in September. Many booksellers mentioned the book to me on tour, and I was relieved to hear that everyone who has read it so far loved it. The ARC version does not have the ending of the story, because Scholastic doesn’t want to give any hints that would give players an advantage in the online game, but I have the final version (which of course stays at my house under lock and key). I hope you like the series when it arrives!

The last couple of days I’ve been working with my webmaster on tweaking the site. I hope you’ve enjoyed the new look. Our designers use a new editing program, so we are still getting used to it, but I think in the long run it’s going to make life easier and the site more user-friendly.

One big announcement on the site: After much consideration, I’ve made the difficult choice to close my calendar to new school visits for the foreseeable future. I’ve already booked the 08-09 school year, but I won’t be doing any private bookings in 09-10. The last couple of years have been extremely taxing on me and my family with all the travel, and while I love doing school visits, there’s no doubt that the heavy schedule has slowed down my writing considerably. I will still do the occasional visit as part of the publisher’s promotional efforts, but I won’t be arranging any visits myself. I’ve got a lot on my plate over the next two years – multiple writing deadlines that will need my full attention. There’s the last Percy book to write, several non-Percy projects to work on, and a new Camp Half-Blood series to launch. And while I know I’ll disappoint a lot of schools who wanted to host me, I think I’ll disappoint even more people if I’m late on the books, or if the writing quality suffers because I’m short on time or sleep. My first priority has to be making the books as best I can, and making sure they come out on time! I’ll keep evaluating the situation year to year, but through 2010, I will be curtailing my travel schedule severely. When I told my sons I was doing this, they both pumped their fists, yelled, “Yes!” and gave me a big hug. That indicated to me that I’ve made the right choice! Thanks for understanding, and I’m sure I’ll still see many of you at the events I’ve already scheduled next school year.

It’s the last week of school for my kids. I hope everyone else has a great end of the school year, and stock up on great books for summer reading!

Rick Riordan